Book Update: PerNoWriMos

Book writing has continued apace. At last glance I am around 192 standard Word pages, not formatted for publishing.


Book writing has continued apace. At last glance I am around 192 standard Word pages, not formatted for publishing.

My pace has been so blistering (around 5 pages a day on average, since starting, with breaks in the early going) that I was starting to worry that I’m cramming a huge undertaking into a really short time, which is either a) really amazing or b) a recipe for disaster.

I was thinking of an appropriate parallel to this experience, and remembered that there is such a thing: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Back in the days when blogging was young and idealistic (harp music), and always on the lookout for content, somebody came up with NaNoWriMo. The concept was to write a full length novel in 30 days, with minimal editing. I did not participate.

I was wondering, however, how long I’ve been at it, writing my initial draft. Thanks to the magic of bullet journaling, I have an answer: Since March 30.

I have a stretch goal for myself this month to finish the initial draft, which means “get to the ending”. It’s become clear to me as I go along that this will stretch into a second book. Not artificially, like I’m inventing problems or something. The story has gotten interesting and complex, and for the sake of the greater arc it would end too quickly and leave too much unresolved to arbitrarily say “okay, the end.”

The risk and reward of “write as you go”, for me, has been discovering where the story is heading, and as a result, writing from that perspective. Let’s say Character X walks into a grand cathedral. Since this is a new place, relative to the character and the story at large, the reader wants to see it through the character’s eyes. Despite this being the rough cut, I have enjoyed laying down the “bones” of new places and new characters as they enter the story.

The down side, or at least the thing that I have to watch out for, is the curse of choice. The world could explode or such-and-such character could punch someone else in the nose, but that could completely change the tenor and direction of the story. This can be worth the risk, in moderation, but I have had to delete entire chapters because I took the story in the completely wrong direction. By “going with the flow”, the process has been more rewarding for me, in that new places and characters are revealing themselves that otherwise might not have appeared.

Even more exciting is the way the pieces “click” together. A character may be introduced as a one-off, only to take on a literal life of his or her own, and the story is getting richer as a result. I’m not looking to have a cast of thousands, and am trying to tamp down the roster, but when something works, and works really well, I’m running with it.

Jaime read everything I had done up to Sunday morning, and as I had hoped, she is crawling all over me demanding to know how it ends. But she wants it the hard way: I have to actually write it down. (Type it out, more to the point.)

I was having massive formatting issues over the weekend, and had to take time to fix the problems. The chapters weren’t starting at the top of the page. Something went wonky around chapter 16 and threw everything else out of whack. I am trying to keep re-writing, editing, and formatting to a minimum as I go along, so as not to get bogged down in minutiae and slowing my progress down as I head for the (planned) ending.

I mention this because looking back at earlier chapters, even briefly, I am seeing places where a character in later chapters has firmed up and had more of a defined presence, and therefore earlier references to that character need to firm up as well. But I like knowing that the character has become fully developed and now I can apply that knowledge to the days when I was all, “and, uh, his name is this, and he does this stuff, because… reasons.”

In other news, I received a request from out of the blue for a copy of a prior draft from someone quite unexpected. Jaime hates it when I send drafts all over but I did make an exception because: a) he asked, b) he has been contemplating writing a book but needed inspiration to just do it, and c) male reader. My Advance Review Team (ART) has been predominantly female, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I want different perspectives not in terms of fan service (Jim said “more robots”. I’m on it!)  but to get a feel for how balanced my writing is. I’m not entirely comfortable with writing female characters but this might actually be panning out.

(Right, review team? Hem hem.)

And finally… for better or for worse, other interests are taking a back seat to writing. Art is “on hold” as I focus on the book. If any art flares up, I will post it here, no worries.




Author: Ethan Johnson

Words like silent raindrops.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s